New Delhi: Since the initial days of the coronavirus outbreak, there have been multiple views and speculations on the use and effectiveness of face covers and masks giving rise to confusion among the people. There are, in fact, contrasting opinions related to wearing of masks, between two of major global health organisations- the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading national public health institute of the United States of America. While WHO says there is currently no evidence that wearing a mask by healthy persons in public spaces can protect them from COVID-19, CDC has recently recommended more widespread mask-wearing including by people who do not show any symptoms of COVID-19 because the virus can spread from asymptomatic persons through droplets while exhaling and speaking. In India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has also asked people to cover their nose and mouth with a face cover. In line with this, some states and Union Territories in India like Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh have made it mandatory for people to wear masks. In the wake of the crisis and limited availability of medical masks and N-95 masks, the Union Health Ministry has also put out a manual on making a mask at home itself.
The Advisory and Manual Use of Homemade Protective Cover for Face and Mask can be seen at:https://t.co/Dj8ojLRfXQ@PMOIndia @drharshvardhan @AshwiniKChoubey @PIBFactCheck @COVIDNewsByMIB @MIB_India @DDNewslive @airnewsalerts @IndiaDST @PTI_News
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) April 4, 2020
Coronavirus face covering “do’s” as you get ready to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or to your doctor’s office: Do make sure you can breathe through it. Do wear it whenever going out in public. Do make sure it covers your nose and mouth and do wash after each use. pic.twitter.com/F0bVHK5MpT
— CDC (@CDCgov) April 7, 2020
According to CDC, N-95 maks and medical masks should be used by healthcare and other frontlines workers and by those who are sick while others can use a clean cloth to cover their mouth. An N95 respirator face mask removes particles from the air that are breathed through it. These respirators filter out at least 95 per cent of very small (0.3 micron) particles. These masks are capable of filtering out all types of particles, including bacteria and viruses. N95 respirators reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets.
Unlike N95s, other face masks are loose-fitting and provide only barrier protection against droplets, including large respiratory particles. They do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the of the mask when the user inhales.
While talking to NDTV about the need of covering the mouth while stepping out and effectiveness of a homemade mask, Dr Surender Purohit, Ophthalmologist in Michigan, USA, said
A huge number of people infected by coronavirus are asymptomatic. One of the reasons to wear a face mask is to prevent other people from getting the virus. Even a handkerchief or a bandana around the face will potentially reduce the risk of passing the virus around. But what is important is that you have your mouth covered when you step outside your house.
According to MoHFW, while DIY (Do It Yourself) masks can help in maintaining personal hygiene for people who are not suffering from medical conditions or having breathing difficulties, such a face cover is not recommended for either health workers or those working with or in contact with COVID 19 patients or are patients themselves as these categories of people are required to wear specified protective gear.
Here’s How To Make A Mask At Home:
– Any cotton cloth can be used to make this face cover. But it needs to be ensured that the fabric is washed well in boiling water for 5 minutes and properly dried before making the face cover. Adding salt to the water to be used for washing is recommended.
– Cut cloth — 9 inch x 7 inch for adults and 7 inch x 5 inch for kids.
– Cut 4 strips for tying and piping from cloth. Take the cut fabric, attach the 1.5×5 inches strip to be used as piping to the fabric on one end.
– Create three downward facing pleats of approximately 1.5 inch each folding cloth.
– Turn the pleated cloth to the other side and repeat steps for pleating on this side. Once the pleats have been made, the height of the pleated cloth will be reduced from 9 to 5 inches.
– Secure the pleats with piping on both sides. Now begin attaching the long 40 inch strips used for tying the face cover to the top and bottom.
– Once again fold both these strips three times and stitch.
– Ensure that the face cover fits around your mouth and nose and there is no gap between it and your face. When wearing the face cover, the side facing you should show the pleats as facing downwards.
In The Absence Of A Sewing Machine, Following Steps Can Be Followed:
– Fold a handkerchief from one side to little above the middle of the cloth.
– Fold over the other edge to go above the first fold. Fold this again evenly from the middle.
– Take a rubber band and tie it on the left side of the cloth.
– Tie the other side with another rubber band. Ensure that the area in the middle of the two rubber-bands is big enough to cover the mouth and nose.
– Take one edge of the cloth on the side of the rubber band and fold over it. Do this for both sides. Take one fold and insert into the other fold. To wear this face cover just wrap each rubber band around your ears
The ministry has asked people to make at least two sets of such face covers so that one can be washed while the other is used. One must never reverse the face cover for reuse. Such face covers should also not be thrown anywhere but kept safely, washed properly with soap and hot water and dried properly before they are used, says the health ministry.